Pauline Christianity as a Stoic Interpretation of Judaism




Coad, Diotima

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This thesis investigates the social context of the Apostle Paul and the communities to which he preached with the aim of showing that early Pauline Christianity was shaped by a social milieu that included: first, a Greco-Roman and particularly Stoic philosophy, second, a universalizing Jewish movement and third, an overarching Roman political framework. Paul’s philosophy was built on a foundation of Judaism, interpreted with the tools of Stoic philosophy, and communicated to a largely Roman audience. Chapter One presents the figure of Paul as a Jew and Roman citizen with a Greek education, a product of three cultural worlds. Chapter Two argues that through allegory, Paul replaced Jewish nationalistic and ethnocentric aspects with symbolic ones, and communicated its ethical core with Stoic language and concepts to a primarily Roman audience. Chapter Three examines this audience and determines that they were largely Roman citizens who were both steeped in the prevalent philosophy of the time, Stoicism, as well as being associated with the Jewish community as sympathizers, God-fearers, or “Highest-God” worshippers, as a result of the popular Judaizing movement in the first century. Through the study of Paul, his letters, and his audience, this thesis argues that Pauline Christianity was, at its core, a Stoic interpretation of Judaism.



Paul, Christianity, Stoics, Philosophy